NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

Rocco Commisso(WASHINGTON, D.C.ó April 4, 2006) Rocco B. Commisso, founder, chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications Corporation, will receive the prestigious National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Lifetime Achievement Award at the Foundationís annual East Coast Gala on Tuesday, April 18, in New York City. The gala, which will benefit the NIAF scholarship and education programs, will be held at The New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Mr. Commisso founded Mediacom Communications in 1995 and engineered its dramatic growth into the nationís eighth largest cable television company, with operations in 24 states including its corporate offices in Middletown, NY. After beginning his business career at Pfizer Inc., Mr. Commisso spent a decade in the financial community, initially at The Chase Manhattan Bank and then at Royal Bank of Canada, where he led the bankís U.S. lending activities to companies in the media and communications sectors. From 1986 to 1995, he served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and director of Cablevision Industries Corporation.

Mr. Commisso is on the board of directors of the National Italian American Foundation, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. and C-SPAN, and is an honorary chair of Cable Positive, the cable industryís AIDS action organization. He is the recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southwest Connecticut/New York Hudson Valley, has been named the Innovator of the Year by Cablevision Magazine, and has been recognized by several other organizations and trade publications for his leadership and contributions to the cable industry.

Born in Calabria, Italy, Mr. Commisso immigrated to the U.S. at age 12. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor of science in industrial engineering and a masterís degree in business administration. In 2004, on the 250th anniversary of Columbiaís founding, the schoolís daily newspaper listed Mr. Commisso as one of the 250 greatest alumni.

At the NIAF awards dinner, other prominent industry leaders will be honored for their outstanding leadership in business, government, sports, and entertainment. Legendary racer and winemaker Mario Andretti will receive a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports. Joseph M. Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises, will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award in Business. LTG Raymond Odierno of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is best known for commanding the division that captured Saddam Hussein, will receive a NIAF Special Achievement Award for Military Service.

Also during the NIAF gala, famed actress and model Isabella Rossellini will present a scholarship to an outstanding Italian American student and Jack Valenti will induct actor Alan Alda into the NIAF Italian American Hall of Fame. Actors Danny Aiello, Dennis Farina, and Tony Lo Bianco, along with sports great Yogi Berra, and Italian couture designer Renato Balestra, are among the Italian American celebrities attending the event.

The gala is chaired by Frank Petrilli, president and CEO of Nexxar Group Inc. Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo will perform selections from his self-titled CD during the event.

The NIAF East Coast Gala begins with a reception and silent auction at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. For ticket information, contact Bonni Cellini at 202/939-3114 or or visit

NIAF is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. To learn about our programs/events, visit

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